An allergy to dust can lead to year-round allergy symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. Dust that is visible to the human eye contains the bodies of dead dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic and difficult to see with the naked eye. They can live on bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, and curtains, where they feed on the flakes of skin shed by people and their pets. Dust mites thrive in warm, humid environments. An allergy to dust can develop when your immune system labels dust mite proteins as harmful to the body.
Signs and Symptoms of a Dust Allergy
Common symptoms due to a dust allergy include:
- Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion
- Postnasal drip
- Cough or worsening of asthma symptoms
- Itchy nose, mouth, or throat
- Itchy, red eyes
How to Control Dust Allergies
These allergy symptoms can sometimes be controlled with the use of over-the-counter medications such as antihistamines and nasal spray, and by taking steps to remove and reduce exposure to dust. Some recommendations are to include:
- Using a dehumidifier or air conditioner, because dust mites can’t live in an environment where the humidity is 50% or less
- Encasing your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers
- Washing all bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites
- Freezing non-washable bedding overnight to kill dust mites
- Using a damp rag to dust (a dry cloth stirs up dust mite debris)
- Using a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered bag or HEPA filter
- Using an air purifier with a HEPA filter in your home
Dust Allergy Testing and Treatment
If over-the-counter medications and the above steps cannot provide enough relief, additional treatment may be needed. The Columbia Allergy team can provide testing to confirm an allergy to dust mites.
Treatment options for a dust allergy include subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) or sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Both treatments desensitize the immune system to reduce the reaction to the dust mite protein. You may also be a candidate for our intralymphatic immunotherapy (ILIT) treatment in Fremont, California that can provide faster results!